Sea Ranch Exhibit

Treve at The Sea Ranch exhitit at SFMOMA.

May 7, 2019 2 pm. We are at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art touring an exhibit “The Sea Ranch.” The exhibit ends on June 2, so if you are a fan of architecture and California modernism this exhibit is worth seeing.

Sea Ranch is a development on the California Coast about 100 miles north of San Francisco. Architect and planner Al Boeke envisioned a community that would preserve the area’s natural beauty. Boeke hired landscape architect Lawrence Halprin to create the master plan which grew to encompass 10 miles of the Sonoma County coastline. The development is considered a beacon of modernism on the Northern California coast. The first building was completed in 1965 and the development was envisioned as a progressive, inclusive community, guided by the idealistic principles of good design, economy of space, and harmony with the natural environment.

The design guidelines require that the buildings become part of the landscape. Exteriors are unpainted wood or muted stains and the roofs lack overhanging eaves.

We found the exhibit to be quite interesting with many photos and drawings and some of Lawrence Halprin’s original notes and photos by Morley Baer .

At the moment there are some 1800 homes in the development with many of them serving as vacation rentals.

Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright: Oak Park Walking Tour

On October 2 we arrived in Chicago to start our “Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright” tour. We spent our first few days in Oak Park, on foot. We took Uber from the Airport to our B&B, staying at an AirBnB listed as “Victorian Gem in Heart of FLW District,” on the corner of  Forest Ave and Superior. A lovely place to stay and close to many FLW houses. There are about two dozen of Wright’s houses within walking distance. We managed to visit a few. First and foremost is Wright’s house on the corner of  Forest and Chicago, a block from where we were staying. Build in 1889.

We visited this house as part of a tour offered through the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Photos were permitted on the tour, so I used my little Sony RX100 to capture some handheld images. Next door to the house is Wright’s studio, built in 1897.

And a short walk around town will take you to a number of Wright designed houses. These houses are all privately owned and not open for tours, although you can walk the neighborhood to view them and you can take photos from the sidewalk.

The Parker house, built in 1892, is one of Wright’s “bootleg” homes, one of several commissions Wright took under the table while working for Sullivan & Adler. Sullivan eventually dismissed Wright for his transgressions.

If you happen to have the opportunity to visit Oak Park and you are looking for a self-guided tour check our this link on Curbed. There are also a few phone apps you can use.  A search on the iPhone comes up with a Oak Park walking tour with the title “Frank Lloyd Wright Tour.” I didn’t discover this until recently, but I’d certainly give it a try. We used a printed guide we found in our room at our Airbnb. There’s also an app called the “Wright Guide,” which includes a comprehensive list of FLW projects. A must for any Frank Lloyd Wright Fan.

And of course there is the Unity Temple which is one of Wright’s most famous projects; a ten minute walk from Frank Lloyd Wright’s house. Keep in mind this is a operating place of worship. Visitors are welcome and photos are permitted, but you’ll want to check ahead to make sure you time your visit when you have access. We visited the temple as part of a paid, guided tour. I also returned to the Temple in the evening because I wanted to photograph it at dusk.

tjp_1916_3208_3x

Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright: October 11

We arrived at Falling Water this morning for our 8:30 tour. The site is an eight minute drive from our B&B in Ohiopyle. This is small-town rural America by-the-way. Our innkeeper, Conrad has pigs, chickens and guinea hens. A rooster is crowing as I write this and the freight train is rumbling along the river. We stopped at the Ohiopyle Bakery for coffee and muffins on the way to Falling Water. We also got sandwiches for lunch, although the visitor center at Falling Water has a cafe.

We signed up for the in-depth tour which starts at 8:30. Photography is permitted on the in-depth tour but not on the standard tour. Those photos are on my laptop at the moment and I’ll need to find a good WiFi connection before I can share them.

The house was built for the Kaufmanns, of Kaufmann’s Department Store fame. When they selected the site little did they know that they would be living with the waterfall rather than looking at it. Wright’s desire was for the waterfall to become “an integral part” of their everyday lives.

The House, built in 1936, is a marvel of architectural design, with its cantilevered platforms extending out over the water.

Falling Water is owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Open for tours daily except Wednesday.

Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright: October 6

October 6, 2018. Our day started with breakfast at the Courageous Bakery. On a Saturday morning it’s a busy place. I can see why. Delicious food, and a great menu. After the better part of a week eating rich food I went with the oatmeal: steel cut oats, house made granola, fresh blueberries, brown sugar, wildflower honey, touch of cream. My standard breakfast is oatmeal, so this was like comfort food. A good bowl of oatmeal keeps me satisfied until lunch.

tjp_1916_0625

After breakfast we thought we’d have a leisurely drive to West Lafayette, Indiana. We didn’t account for crossing a time zone though, which took an hour out of our day.  With a quick stop at a road side rest, we grabbed the bread, cheese, salami and fruit we had, and ate on the road arriving at Samara House just in time for our 2 PM tour.

The Samara House is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s later designs, and much different in many ways than his earlier Prairie School designs. This is one of his Usonian Designs.

tjp_1916_3327

When we arrived at the house, we parked and had to hunt a bit for the front door. As with most of Wright’s houses, he wants to lead you on a journey to find the front entrance.

tjp_1916_3378

Later we thought it might be fun to tour the campus of Purdue University, which is also in West Lafayette. Not knowing our way around though, and being a Saturday, we stopped at the Greyhouse Coffee and Supply to regroup. We ducked into the doorway just as a torrential downpour let loose.

Back on the road, the rain gave way to a rainbow and we decided to get off the main highway and look for an opportunity to photograph some of the countryside.

Our final destination for the day was Elwood, a small town of about 8400. We had reservations for a lovely B&B in an old Victorian house. Once settled in we were off to dinner at the Tin Plate Restaurant.

tjp_1916_3460We split an order of a pulled pork sandwich and wings, both listed as the house specialties. Good food, but the local knowledge seems to favor the tenderloin.

 

Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright: October 5

Our day started out with a walk across town to pick up a rental car for the next part of our journey. We had a light rain, but not enough to deter us from a walk. Along the way we crossed to Continental Divide, a high point from which water on the west side of the divide flows to the Mississippi and water to the east flows to the Great Lakes, with the exception of the Chicago River which had the direction of it’s flow reversed with a little help from the City of Chicago and some creative engineering in 1900.

tjp_1916_0601

Once we picked up the car we were off to Kankakee, Illinois to see the B. Harley Bradley House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. The house sits on the bank of the Kankakee River, a very peaceful setting among majestic trees. But first it was breakfast at the Courageous Bakery & Cafe. Excellent food and good coffee. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Oak Park to Kankakee. The route we took was on highways, with grey skies and occasional light rain.  Not much to see along the drive.

We had a very personalized tour with just two of us and the docent. By now we’re beginning to understand the language of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture; his sense of the connection to nature, organic architecture, with the housed rising up out of the landscape like sturdy trees or rocks, the use of vertical lines and the overhanging eves.

tjp_1916_3266tjp_1916_3255

Designed in 1900, this is one of Wright’s first Prairie style houses, With the style emphasizing a plain composition, a low horizontal aspect and low pitched roof with overhanging eaves. We were originally scheduled for a 1 pm tour, but we arrived a bit before noon, and were able to get an early start. We spent about an hour and a half in the house, and when we finished the tour at 1:30 we were ready for lunch. We headed downtown and had lunch at Rigo’s Place, one of the restaurants recommended by our tour leader. Just outside the restaurant we admired the murals painted on several of the buildings.tjp_1916_3284

After lunch we weren’t quite ready to leave. We wanted to explore the river a bit, so we went back to the Bradley House and took a tour up and down the river on a little electric Duffy boat.

tjp_1916_0618

Chasing Frank Lloyd Wright: October 4

After a day of touring some of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright I decided to take a short walk back to Unity Temple to see what it looked light at dusk. This is just a 10 minute walk from our Airbnb in Oak Park. I was curious to see what the the building would look like lit up at dusk.

tjp_1916_3223_3x

Earlier in the day we had toured the Temple with a tour tour group led by docents of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The tour started at the Rookery Building in downtown Chicago where we boarded a bus to take us to several sites around the city. The tour included the Rookery Building, a walking tour of Oak Park, including Unity Temple and the Robie House. By the end of the day we had a strong sense for some of the design features for which Frank Lloyd Wright is know. A delightful and informative tour.

We arrived in Chicago on Tuesday, October 2, and we’ve been busy exploring some of the architectural highlights of the city. I’ll have more to share in the days ahead. I just have to figure out how to sit still long enough to write.

Taliesin West

Our travels took us to Taliesin West today. We had purchased tickets ahead of time since we were planning on being in Phoenix today for a family reunion. We booked the “Details Tour,” which was a two hour tour covering some of the details of the architecture. Photos are permitted on this tour, so it as a treat to capture photos with my little Sony RX100.

Frank Lloyd Wright established Taliesin West in 1937 as his winter home and school in the desert. Today it is the main campus of the School of Architecture at Taliesin. I was surprised to find that the buildings seem to be a bit rough hewn, which seems appropriate since the location was a laboratory for design and experimentation and much of the facilities were built by Frank Lloyd Wright’s students. The location was very remote at the time it was built and the design reflects Wright’s love of nature and philosophy about how design should interact with nature.

For anybody interested in architecture, design and nature this tour is a must.